Ailing Sears wanted to be an online giant

Tom Paine

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Just remembering how Sears, along with IBM and CBS (which quickly dropped out), was an original investor in Trintex which became Prodigy, a 1980's startup that intended to turn Americans into online junkies.

Presumably, the logic for Sears was to sell stuff online , a ridiculous notion at the time.

The Prodigy service launched in 1988, and competed mostly with CompuServe in the embryonic consumer online market. There was no public internet at the time, speeds were at a crawl, and home PC penetration was limited. Prodigy was known for its cool graphical user interface and some popular and often heated bulletin boards that served as forums. Subscribers reached 1,000,000 at its peak.

Then AOL came along to dominate the consumer market, quickly followed by the Internet. Prodigy did many innovative things to compete ( read this article in The Atlantic ) , and converted to become an ISP in the late 90s. IBM and Sears sold their interests to a group led by Carlos Slim in 1996 for $200 million. It was estimated that IBM and Sears had invested more than $1 billion in Prodigy since its founding. The original Prodigy service was shut down in 1999.